Planning Portal

Reform of the Planning System and Transfer of Planning Functions - 1st April 2015

Local Government Reform

Following local government reform in April 2015, the bulk of planning functions no longer rests with the Department.  Instead these powers have been devolved to the 11 councils which, through their elected representatives, are responsible and accountable for most planning decisions.  The transfer of most planning functions to the district councils did not just involve the redistribution of functions but included the creation of a new planning system for Northern Ireland: requiring new roles, responsibilities and relationships for all those involved in the planning process.
Since 1 April 2015 the councils are responsible for:
  • Local development planning – creating a plan which will set out a clear vision of how the council area should look in the future by deciding what type and scale of development should be encouraged and where it should be located;
  • Development management – determining the vast majority of planning applications;
  • Planning enforcement – investigating alleged breaches of planning control and determining what action should be taken.
The Department is responsible for:
  • Determination of regionally significant and ‘called-in’ planning applications;
  • Regional Development Strategy (RDS);
  • Regional planning policy;
  • Planning Legislation;
  • Performance management;
  • Oversight and guidance for councils;

Reform links

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